Buddhism is a rational religion full of scientific, positivist, and critical spirits. The liberation wisdom and the wisdom of ultimate reality expounded in the true Buddhism are in complete accord with the true facts of the phenomenal world and the ultimate reality, both of which are involved with the life of sentient beings and the material worlds. Hence, the positivist and critical contents of Buddhism include all mundane and transmundane dharmas. In Buddhist sutras, it is often found that Buddha Sakyamuni advised sentient beings "to renounce these evil erroneous views"1
and "to have no erroneous views"2
; to save sentient beings, the Buddha even advised the Buddhist disciples "to diligently refute the evil views"3
and "to use the supreme wisdom to destroy the evil wisdom."4
Namely, with the liberation wisdom and the wisdom of ultimate reality attained from the actual realization of the eighth vijnana Tathagatagarbha, one criticizes and destroys the erroneous views that are incompatible with the ultimate reality of dharma-realm to benefit oneself and others. This is the exceptional wisdom unique to Mahayana Buddhism, but not commonly shared by the saints of Two Vehicles5
, non-Buddhists, and religious or pure academic researchers.
In different schools of Mahayana Buddhism, we can see the core value based on the same positivist and critical spirits. For example, in the Treatise on the Establishment of Vijnana-Only, Master Xuanzang of the Vijnana-Only School6
claimed, "It will be difficult to manifest the right dharma if one does not destroy the evil one,"7
or in the Chinese Chan School, many enlightened patriarchs "comment on ancient and modern masters"8
; both are typical examples. The reason why Master Xuanzang could destroy the evil dharma and manifest the right one, or the Chan patriarchs could comment on the ancient and the modern, is that they had personally realized the eighth vijnana Tathagatagarbha and even had attained the way-seed-prajna of Vijnana-Only. In particular, the actual realization of the true mind and seeing the Buddha-nature emphasized in the Chan School is exactly the origin of wisdom, by which the Buddhist sages and saints can "use the supreme wisdom to destroy the evil wisdom."9
However, there are also non-Buddhist schools under the guise of Buddhism falsely believing that the capability of Buddhist doctrine debate comes from "the training in scripture debate,"10
which is academic, dialectical, and catechetic; they are also proud of it. For instance, exiled from Tibet to India, the Dalai‘s bogus government propagates "Tibetan Buddhism," whose essence is merely the couple practice of copulation, with a belief in ghosts and deities. They mistakenly believe that the critical spirit and capability of Buddhism come from the "training in scripture debate." In fact, the capability to "use the supreme wisdom to destroy the evil wisdom" does not come from the "training in scripture debate" similar to that in the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics founded by the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala. With the scientific, positivist spirits and methods, the Buddhist wisdom actually comes from the verification that the aggregates, sense-fields, and sense-realms are illusory unreality, and that there is the eighth vijnana Tathagatagarbha really existing beyond the aggregates, sense-fields, and sense-realms. Therefore, to actually realize the liberation wisdom and the wisdom of ultimate reality to bring about the eye for discriminating the right doctrines has nothing to do with the academic, dialectical, or catechetic trainings.
The training in scripture debate, which inherits the theory of six vijnanas from Prasangika Madhyamika, is connected with the illusory language state of six vijnanas,11
which cease to exist every night; how could it be possible to be liberated from the cycle of births and deaths? Unable to be liberated from births and deaths, how could one be exceptional and superior to others? Hence, based on the training in scripture debate, the practitioners of "Tibetan Buddhism" cannot defend their viewpoints about the sexual misconduct of the copulation tantra or the nihilistic essence of six vijnanas, which cannot be transformed into a state of purity or permanent existence. How could the training in scripture debate based on the illusory six vijnanas enable one to be critical and introspective? In this way, based on the theory of six vijnanas, which can be actually realized by all human beings, the practitioners of "Tibetan Buddhism" are the same as non-Buddhists and ordinary mortals, devoid of any exceptional wisdom. Obviously, such training in scripture debate, similar to non-Buddhists and ordinary mortals, cannot bring about the liberation wisdom or the wisdom of ultimate reality, which are not commonly shared by non-Buddhists or ordinary mortals. Therefore, the "Tibetan Buddhism" propagated by the Dalai Lama in the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics in Dharamsala does not belong to any Buddhist school, but in fact the Lamaism, which craves the mundane lust with a blind belief in ghosts and deities.
Mahayana Buddhism spread eastwards from India. In China, manifested as the lively Chan School, the Mahayana culture had been flourishing after the Tang and Song dynasties. The Chan School not only sets goals to actually realize the true mind and see the Buddha-nature but also shows the critical spirit of "commenting on ancient and modern masters." Therefore, the Chan culture represents the core spirits of actual enlightenment and criticism in Mahayana Buddhism. However, the critical spirit cannot exist without the premise of Buddhist actual enlightenment; otherwise, it would fall into the trap of purely academic imagination. Just like Shiro Matsumoto of "Critical Buddhism" in Japan, people made this error, and their critique of the orthodox Buddhism is completely absurd. For this reason, the topics of this issue are about "the Chinese Chan School and Critical Buddhism," and three related articles are presented as follows:
1. Exploring the Origin of the Chinese Chan School─Also a Brief Comment on the Saints of Three Vehicles Hearing Mahayana Teachings Together (Tsai Lichen)
2. To Explore the Essence of Chan Transmission in the Chinese Chan School with Positivist Buddhism─Using the Practical Theory of Venerable Pings Xiao as a Model (Chang Chihcheng)
3. Analyzing the Errors in the "Dhātu-vāda" of the "Critical Buddhism" (Yuan Jingwen)
Using the Agama Sutras as the documental evidence, Tsai Lichen‘s article "Exploring the Origin of the Chinese Chan School─Also a Brief Comment on the Saints of Three Vehicles Hearing Mahayana Teachings Together" proves that the Chinese Mahayana Chan School originates from what the Buddha had personally expounded before the collection of the Agama Sutras.12
According to The Sutra of Honey Pill Simile in the Madhyama-Agama, Tsai first proposes positivist criticism as the methodology of interpreting the Buddhist sutras. The author believes that only through the personal realization of the ultimate reality of dharma-realm, with the further application of the liberation wisdom and the wisdom of ultimate reality obtained from actual enlightenment, can one have a correct understanding of the various "brief teachings" in the Buddhist sutras. In contrast, without any wisdom of actual enlightenment, the method of text criticism currently used by the academic world not only makes one misunderstand the "brief teachings" in the sutras, but also leads to misinterpretations and wrong conclusions frequently. Among them, a serious, obvious example is that, if Mahayana Buddhism can be traced back to the "brief teachings" of the Agama Sutras, it logically proves that Mahayana Buddhism had been personally expounded by the Buddha before the collection of the Agama Sutras. However, the fact that the revival of Mahayana Buddhism after the Sectarian Buddhism can be traced back to the "brief teachings" of the Agama Sutras is misinterpreted by many scholars as that the sound-hearing teachings in the Agama Sutras are "Early Buddhism"; they deny that Mahayana Buddhism was personally expounded by the Buddha, and wrongly claim that Mahayana Buddhism was created by the Buddhist disciples after Buddha Sakyamuni passed away. What they say is not in accord with the sutra teachings of four Agama divisions. Hence, the author believes that "the revival of Mahayana Buddhism" after the Sectarian Buddhism should be called as such, but not the "initial arising of Mahayana"; only "the revival of Mahayana Buddhism" is the correct term used for its historical positioning in conformity with the historical fact.
Concerning the origin of the Chinese Chan School, the author still applies the method of positivist criticism and cites the event of Angulimala chasing the Buddha, which is recorded in the Agama Sutras of both Southern and Northern traditions and in fact a lively Chan Koan. For those scholars who use the method of text criticism, a lively Chan Koan with profound Buddhist meaning is merely
regarded as a Buddhist story. People always feel confused about the Chan Koans. The author cites the sutra passage about the brief teachings of the Angulimala‘s Koan in the Ekottara-Agama to explain the reasoning process for meditatively contemplating the ultimate reality of dharma-realm and the contents to be eliminated for actually realizing the Chan Koan. Lifting the mystical veil of Chan Koans, this study can be the guiding principle for the future research in Chan.
Tsai‘s article not only interprets the reasoning process and the contents to be eliminated for meditatively contemplating the Chan Koans, but also points out the difference between the Mahayana "real Chan" and the Hinayana "expedient Chan thought" with the citations from the Agama Sutras. It shows that, during His lifetime, the Buddha expounded the Hinayana Chan and the Mahayana Chan at the same time, and the sound-hearer saints of Two Vehicles also heard the teachings together; this proves that the Buddha did personally expound the Buddha dharma of Three Vehicles. In addition, the ingenious author presents three lively Chan Koans form the Agama Sutras and a Wild-Fox Chan, and selects the corresponding Chan Koans and the Wild-Fox Chan from the written records of Chan patriarchs to compare with each other; it shows that the Chinese Chan School indeed originated from the Buddha‘s teachings and is full of wit and humor, with infinite meanings.
Tsai‘s article also cites another Koan from the Agama Sutras, which says that Vasistha, a female Brahmin, became enlightened after seeing from a distance that The World-Honored One, surrounded by countless people, spoke the dharma. This Koan is the documental evidence showing that the sound-hearer saints, who collected the Agama Sutras later, and the Mahayana bodhisattvas together participated in the dharma assembly in which the Buddha expounded the prajna sutras. The documental evidence of the Chan Koans in the Agama Sutras proves not only the historical fact that the saints of Three Vehicles heard the Mahayana teachings together, but also the fact that, before a big crowd, the Buddha could show a Chan Koan to make the qualified Mahayana bodhisattvas become enlightened, while the rest participating people were ignorant and blind to the Buddha‘s teaching. This shows that only the Mahayana Chan School is the true secret school of Buddhism. As for the "Tibetan Buddhism" propagated by the Dalai Lama, it is not Buddhism at all, nor is it a secret school.
With the methodology of positivist criticism running through his whole article, the author presents the documental evidence of historical facts that the Agama Sutras are full of Chan Koans, and this proves that the Chinese Mahayana Chan School originated directly from the Buddha‘s direct teachings. The author also gives a vey profound interpretation of the historical significance that the Agama Sutras are full of Chan Koans, which establishes the unquestionable position of the Chinese Chan School in Buddhism. The research method of this article is new; the author‘s unique
view can be found in many places; the research results of this study are plentiful. With a new vision angle, this article reinterprets the ancient documents, the Agama Sutras. In addition to the modern Chan study, which has often centered around the interpretation of Dunhuang documents, this article creates a new vision angle and a new field for the documental data of Chan study, and has also reached a new milestone in the modern Chinese Chan study.
In his article "To Explore the Essence of Chan Transmission in the Chinese Chan School with Positivist Buddhism─Using the Practical Theory of Venerable Pings Xiao as a Model," Chang Chihcheng proposes the methodology "based on the interpretation from actual realization" in the hope of clearing up the mist over the theory of patriarch tradition, which has the superficial appearance of dharma transmission reliant on the person. This article directly explores the essence of the practical theory about the Chan transmission and the content of actual enlightenment. The author cites the fact that after enlightenment by himself, Chan master Yongjia Xuanjue was formally validated by the sixth patriarch Hui Neng, and therefore Xuanjue is listed as one of the dharma descendants of the thirty-third patriarch Master Hui Neng in the Record of the Transmission of the Lamp Published in the Jingde Era. This shows that the Chinese Chan transmission always takes the actual realization of the eighth vijnana Tathagatagarbha as the real content of Chan transmission, and the bodhisattva of upper stages as the Chan teacher to be reliant on; the Chan transmission is not dependent on the superficial relationship between the teacher and disciples. This article points out that real dharma transmission reliant on the dharma but not the person is exactly the real transmission of Chinese Buddhism.
Chang‘s article also points out that the practical theory of Buddhism is in fact to focus on the Positivist Buddhism "based on the interpretation from actual realization," and Positivist Buddhism is based on the true realization of the eighth vijnana Tathagatagarbha, but not a philosophy of ideology or metaphysics. The author cites the Mahayana sutras and treatises as the proof that the core doctrine of Mahayana Buddhism is to actually realize the eighth vijnana Tathagatagarbha and therefore bring forth the prajna wisdom. The practical theory by Venerable Pings Xiao also focuses on the actual realization of the eighth vijnana Tathagatagarbha, which is in perfect accord with that of Mahayana sutras and treatises. Therefore, the author believes that Venerable Pings Xiao‘s theory is the best interpretation model for all the Buddhist learners to follow.
Using the Positivist Buddhism as the kernel, Chang directly points out that while investigating Buddhism and Chan, the modern Buddhist academic world usually applies philology, textual criticism, ideological history, philosophy, hermeneutics, etc to do their research; the above mundane methods give undue emphasis to philosophic reasoning and developmental history of ideology;
however, they neglect that the method of actual enlightenment plays a key role in the methodology of Buddhist research. The author also gives the examples that the "Critical Buddhism" of Japan and Shi Yinshun of Taiwan all used "the theory of six vijnanas, which are dependent arising without intrinsic nature," to do their research of pure thinking; they did not have the actual experiences of the eighth vijnana Tathagatagarbha told in the Agama Sutras and therefore negated the Tathagatagarbha theory of eight vijnanas, which is the Buddhist core doctrine. Similarly, although Lu Cheng of mainland China supported the theory of eight vijnanas, but unable to actually realize the eighth vijnana Tathagatagarbha, he did not believe that the "stillness nature" and the "enlightenment nature" of the Tathagatagarbha stay together without any conflict; hence, Lu wrongly claimed that The Treatise on Awakening of Faith, The Surangama Sutra, etc., are fake Mahayana sutras or treatises invented in China, and he negated the authentic Mahayana sutras. Based on the various evidence provided, the author summarizes that the Chan patriarchs regarded the sutras and treatises of both prajna and Tathagatagarbha systems as equally important, and freely applied those sutras and treatises to teach their disciples to actually realize the eighth vijnana Tathagatagarbha; the phenomenon of thought evolution or though fusion does not exist in the Chan school, and this study overturns the wrong conclusions made by those who support the theory of six vijnanas or the unenlightened.
Chang also cites the documental evidence from the written records of Chan School to prove that the actual realization of the eighth vijnana Tathagatagarbha is the target set in the Chinese Chan School. Venerable Pings Xiao holds the same view, so did all the truly enlightened patriarchs of the Chinese Chan School. This view is also in perfect accord with the core doctrine of the Indian Mahayana Buddhism. Those important topics, such as whether the nature of the Chan enlightenment is sudden or gradual and the differences between the Tathagata Chan and the patriarch Chan, are also profoundly explored in Chang‘s article. With the view of Positivist Buddhism, this article summarizes the points of different arguments in the modern academic world and provides a lot of citations with broad discussions, making the essence of dharma transmission from India to modern China clearly visible. Chang‘s article is indeed an innovative, excellent piece of writing.
Yuan Jingwen‘s article "Analyzing the Errors in the .Dhātu-vāda‘ of the .Critical Buddhism‘" summarizes the viewpoints of the Japanese "Critical Buddhism," which criticizes the Vijnana-Only and Tathagatagarbha theories of the Tiantai School, the Chan School, and the Huayan (Kegon) School in traditional Chinese Buddhism, in four characteristics: one target, two origins, alienation and generalization of vision angle, and lack of correct Buddhist knowledge; the last one runs through the first three. Among them, the "Critical Buddhism" uses the "locus" theory of "Dhātu-vāda" to express the Alayavijnana and Tathagatagarbha thoughts of the Indian Vijnana-Only
theory, and as "one target" of criticism.
Yuan points out that Shiro Matsumoto presumed the "monism," which holds that the life originates from a common "dhātu," including the Laozi philosophy, the Divine-Self theory, the theory of Brahma-Atma-Aikya, and the thought of ancient people in the Eastern and Western worlds, to be the Tathagatagarbha thought of Buddhism. In fact, Shiro Matsumoto misunderstood the Buddhist doctrines. The fundamental thought of Buddhism holds that every sentient being has his/her own unique Tathagatagarbha (also named Alayavijnana). The natures of every sentient being‘s own unique Tathagatagarbha are completely identical. The Tathagatagarbha thought is diametrically opposite to the common "dhātu" of the "monism," and completely different from the Laozi philosophy, the Divine-Self theory, and the theory of Brahma-Atma-Aikya. The author points out that Shiro Matsumoto presumed the profound meaning of Tathagatagarbha, which stores all seeds and gives birth to all dharmas, to be the simplified Laozi philosophy or the theory of Brahma-Atma-Aikya. Obviously, Matsumoto‘s presumption merely bears an inferior, superficial similarity, and he did not have a true understanding of the Buddhist core doctrines.
Through debates and analyses of the topics, such as the emptiness-nature of Tathagatagarbha and the infinite space, realm of the infinite space, or Tathagatagarbha and the locus philosophy involved in the "dhātu," or Tathagatagarbha and real entity, or whether the Alayavijnana entity is permanent or impermanent, Yuan‘s article directly points out that the Japanese "Critical Buddhism" misunderstands the Chinese Buddhist doctrines and it is the fundamental error. This exactly shows that the Japanese "Critical Buddhism" is "lacking in the correct Buddhist knowledge." According to the theory of six vijnanas proposed by the Japanese "Critical Buddhism," the author conducts a general debate and analysis to show the basic characteristic of the "Critical Buddhism" is the "lack of correct Buddhist knowledge." The reason why the "Critical Buddhism" has the problem of the "lack of correct Buddhist knowledge" is that it lacks the basic requirement of interpreting the Buddhist sutras, namely the actual realization of the eighth vijnana Tathagatagarbha. Yuan conducts a profound analysis and debate on the "Critical Buddhism," and his article is an excellent work in response to the Japanese "Critical Buddhism."
The Buddhist topics in the three articles above, including the direct exploration into the origin of the Chinese Chan School, a general discussion on the essence of Chan transmission in the ancient and modern Buddhism, and the new emerging "Critical Buddhism" in Japan, are all related to the key topic─whether the Buddhist doctrines are directed toward the actual realization of the eighth vijnana Tathagatagarbha. In other words, only through the liberation wisdom and the wisdom of ultimate reality attained from actual enlightenment can one have general discussions on all topics
involved in the true reality of the universe and life, including whether the Buddhist wisdom can be correctly attained through the methodology of the "training in scripture debate" and even what the basic content that sentient beings "should renounce these evil erroneous views" is. From the wonderful discussions and debates in the three articles above, which are never heard before, it exactly shows that the attainment of the liberation wisdom and the wisdom of ultimate reality comes only from actual enlightenment.
1 The Dirgha-Agama, Vol. 7: "The Buddha told the Brahman again, .You should renounce these evil erroneous views and do not increase your vexations by yourself for a long time.‘" (CBETA, T01, no. 1, p. 45, a27-28)
2 The Dirgha-Agama, Vol. 6: (The Buddha told Vasistha,) "Vasistha! For example, there are Kshatriyas who do no killing, no stealing, no sexual misconduct, no deception, no divisive speech, no harsh speech, no idle talks, no stinginess or greed, no jealousy, and no erroneous views; there are also Brahmins, Vaishyas, and Shudras who similarly practice the ten good deeds. Those who do the good deeds will certainly receive good retributions, and those who do the pure practices will certainly receive pure retributions." (CBETA, T01, no. 1, p. 37, a17-21)
3 The Dirgha-Agama, Vol. 9: "What are the seven knowing dharmas? They refer to the seven diligences: diligence in precepts, diligence in eliminating the greed, diligence in destroying the erroneous views, diligence in hearing much, diligence in effort, diligence in correct thought, and diligence in samadhi." (CBETA, T01, no. 1, p. 54, c6-9)
4 The Sutra of Essential Collections of All Dharmas, Vol. 1: "Dwelling in the four kinds of fearlessness, one can calm all fears. One uses the correct thought to remove the delusional thought, and uses the supreme wisdom to destroy the evil wisdom." (CBETA, T17, no. 728, p. 458, c10-11)
5 The saints of Two Vehicles have actually realized only the illusory unreality of aggregates, sense-fields and sense-realms, but not the eighth vijnana Tathagatagarbha. Therefore, the wisdom of ultimate reality attained from the actual realization of the eighth vijnana by the Mahayana bodhisattvas is not commonly shared by the saints of Two Vehicles.
6 The Vijnana-Only School is generally called the Dharma-Character School of Vijnana-Only [Vijnanavada]. Please refer to Mastery of School Tenets and Eloquence, Venerable Pings Xiao, True Wisdom Publishing Co. (Taipei), 2001, p. 315.
7 Treatise on the Establishment of Vijnana-Only, Vol. 3: "It will be difficult to manifest the right dharma if one does not destroy the evil one." (CBETA, T31, no. 1585, p. 12, c18-19)
8 Chan Master Dahui Pujue's Arsenal for the Chan School, Vol. 1: "Venerable Yanyang visited Chan Master Zhaozhou. A monk asked, .What is a Buddha?‘ The master answered, .A clod.‘ .What is the dharma?‘ .An earthquake.‘ .What is a monastic?‘ .Eating gruel and eating rice.‘ .What is the Xinxing water?‘ .In the river before us.‘ The master said, .Such a dharma-door is just like a trifling matter. However, after entering this dharma-door, one can attain peace and happiness. For example, Monk Zhenjing commented on ancient and modern masters. What he did is not less than that of Chan Master Xuedou. However, after propagation to the later Buddhist learners, Zhenjing‘s comments have become harsh words or statements of less importance. Just ask how the ancient masters did it, how you say about the True Suchness, and how Chan Master Yongqi said about it. You are involved in many unimportant things, and the disease is not cured by a lot of medicines. Given the correct medicine, the disease can be cured by picking up a blade of grass under a fence; it is unnecessary to take medicines such as cinnabar, monkshood, ginseng, or Atractylodes (Bai Zhu).‘" (CBETA, T47, no. 1998B, p. 951, c6-15) The meanings of "commenting" are manifold, just like those of criticizing; in addition to the meaning of pointing out others‘ mistakes, commenting and criticizing have the positive meaning of pointing out the correct principle to benefit others.
9 Master Xuanzang founded the Dharma-Character School of Vijnana-Only. Although it is not a lineage of the Chan School, Master Xuanzang could establish the three able-changing vijnanas based on the eight vijnanas, interpret the hundred dharmas, and choose between right and wrong. It is all because he had actually realized the eighth vijnana Tathagatagarbha, which is also realized in the Chan School, and his attainment surpasses those of many Chan patriarchs.
10 According to the official website of the exiled Tibetan government, Liu Yuzhu, "The Institute of Buddhist Dialectics in India: The Cradle of Lama Students": "The so-called scripture debate is a choice; through the Prasangika theory, one can dispel contradictions step by step and eliminate doubts; going deeper and deeper, one finally makes the strictest and most correct choice. This choosing wisdom is exactly the wisdom attained from thinking." (Retrieved from the official website of the exiled Tibetan government: http://www.xizang-zhiye.org/b5/comp/ddi/tdddi01.html. 2011/5/27.) Because the training in scripture debate in the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics is the training inherited from the gurus of Prasangika Madhyamika, and the official website of the exiled Tibetan government agrees that its training in scripture debate is "the wisdom attained from thinking," it is an academic, dialectical, and catechetic training, devoid of the wisdom attained from practice, and therefore it is not the true wisdom.
11 The gurus of Prasangika Madhyamika all support the theory of six vijnanas; they hold that there are only six vijnanas, namely the eye-vijnana, the ear-vijnana, the nose-vijnana, the tongue-vijnana, the body-vijnana, and the Manovijnana [the conscousness], in the dharma-realm, and the seventh and eighth vijnanas are merely the subtle levels of the Manovijnana. They negate the existence of the seventh vijnana and the eighth vijnana. Their view is entirely different from that of the Buddha, who refuted the non-Buddhists with the theory of eight vijnanas.
12 The Agama Sutras of the four divisions include roughly 1,500 sutras, which were collected by forty sound-hearer arhats and sound-hearers of other fruition-stages in the First Buddhist Council of the five hundred. Later, the Second Buddhist Council of the seven hundred was about the collection of the vinaya sutras (ten practices not in accord with the dharma) by the sound-hearers more than a hundred years after the Buddha‘s passing away. It was not about the collection of the Agama sutras. Please refer to the original text proof cited from the four Agama sutras in The Correct Meanings of The Agama Sutras by Venerable Pings Xiao. One can also prove that fact with reference to the contents of the vinaya sutras of the Second Buddhist council.
Pai Chihwei, The Chief Editor
Journal of True Enlightenment
June 6th, 2011